Review: 48 Hours: “Name, Rank and Serial Killer”

on April 10, 2011 in Serial Killers, Video Reviews by

Colonel David Russell Williams was a decorated pilot in the Canadian Air Force, who had flown Queen Elizabeth II.

Colonel Williams was base commander for Canadian Forces Base Trenton, the largest air base in the country.

Colonel Williams was an avid photographer, runner, and angler.

Colonel Williams was happily married.

Colonel Williams was also a rapist and murder, who liked to steal and wear women’s undergarments.

48 Hours premiered their episode on Colonel Russell Williams last night. The primary focus of the episode was on the nine to ten hour interview by Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth, a member of the Ontario Provincal Police’s Behavioural Sciences Unit.

The episode showed how Smyth systematically broke WIlliams down until he confessed. The interview started at 3:00pm with a confident, open, even arrogant Williams, who was sure he was in charge of the situation. His body language slowly closed as worry set in. By 7:45pm, he was confessing in hopes protecting his wife.

The most unusual thing about Williams is that he does seem to feel at least some remorse for his actions. At least one of the victims who survived his attack stated that he did seem to feel sorry he hurt her.

The show made a big deal about his genuine love for his wife, and how rare it is for a psychopath to have such feelings. Such feelings are rare, especially for one with sadistic tendencies like Williams, but they’re far from unheard of. Both Gary Ridgway and Jerry Brudos seemed to really care for their wives.

He began his crimes with the stealing of women’s underwear, presumably masturbatory purposes. This is again reminiscent of Jerry Brudos, as well as of Derek Percy. 48 Hours took a nice shot at Williams by showing several self-portraits Williams took of himself wearing the underwear he stole.

There was child pornography found on his computer. While at this time there are no indications of his having abused any children, you have to worry when you find such things. He wouldn’t admit to anything regarding the child pornography. In fact, the issue almost derailed his guilty plea.

Perhaps it was an urge that he had managed to resist? He clearly had an understanding of right and wrong. These urges may have been abhorrent to him, even though he could not fully shut them down.

We are also left with real questions about why Williams did these crimes. It was one question he didn’t want to answer any of the interviews.

What part of his childhood caused him to develop these violent urges? Or was he just born this way?

While I’ve not yet read Timothy Appleby’s book, A New Kind of Monster: The Secret Life and Shocking True Crimes of an Officer . . . and a Murderer, I’ve not heard of any major revelations about his childhood.

And, to my knowledge, Williams has not chosen to open up to any psychiatrists or criminologists since he was convicted. Unless he does, we may never know.

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